UNDER-FIRE Stratford College claims it is back on track to protect its future as an independent institution.
The college suffered a massive double blow in 2013 following two damning reports from Further Education Commissioner Dr David Collins and Ofsted.
Dr Collins’ report threw into doubt the college’s ability to remain as an independent institution – pinpointing five financial years of deficit and poor management as factors which may have led to its status being stripped away.
Meanwhile the Ofsted report demanded the Alcester Road college improve in a number of areas including teaching practices, which were criticised for ‘not allowing students to reach their full potential’ and the curriculum, which it argued was not providing enough ‘equality and diversity’ in lessons.
But after a difficult 12 months under the spotlight, the college appears to be turning its fortunes around.
It says it is ‘well on the way to resolving its financial difficulties’ and has received high praise from the previously critical Dr Collins following his return inspection to check on the college.
Dr Collins paid tribute to the impressive changes, which he said were quickly implemented and had led to ‘major improvements.’
He added: “I’m really pleased to see how much progress has been made through the hard work of the staff and the new governing body.
“The college has not only improved on quality, but is well on the way to resolving its financial difficulties.
“While there is still a lot of work to do, it’s great to be able to report on a success story.”
Dr Collins re-visited the college after the introduction of its new principal, Nicola Mannock, who was formerly deputy head and a new board of governors, which came in following the departure of former head Martin Penny, who bore the brunt of the initial damning report.
Placing blame in his initial reports on an inadequate former governing board, Dr Collins was pleased with the new arrivals.
And despite initially calling for the new head to be someone from ‘the active business community’ and stating the appointment of Mrs Mannock was rushed, Dr Collins has now labelled the move a success.
New chair of governors, Ian Robinson said he was delighted by Dr Collins’ comments.
And Mrs Mannock added: “We are now in a very strong position to all move forward together as a college with a new, prosperous and exciting future ahead for both students and staff.
“I am absolutely thrilled that the staff, who have worked tirelessly to implement the recommendations, have now seen the fruits of their labour.”